News & Politics

We Go So You Don’t Have To: Sexpionage Talk at the Spy Museum

Miss the “Spies, Lies, and Naked Thighs” lecture last night? No worries. We rounded up the juiciest tidbits.

The International Spy Museum proved sex sells everything, including after-hours academic lessons, with a second installment of the popular 18-and-older Sexpionage Lecture last night. Lured by promises of authentic sexual-entrapment videos and compromising photographs, an initially uptight audience loosened its collar and guffawed its way through a two-hour, case-by-case presentation of seduction strategies, memorable affairs gone awry, and racy bedroom footage. H. Keith Melton, historian and Spy Museum board member; Nigel West, author of The Historical Dictionary of Sexpionage; and former KGB member Oleg Kalugin were on hand to dish the historical dirt, crack a few jokes, and answer questions. Read on for a summary of the sometimes scandalous, often salacious, and always surprising information we picked up from the presentation.

• Biblical undercover: According to Melton, there are 132 references to espionage in the New Testament.

• Julia Child was a spy! Well, sort of. ABC News summarizes the information here.

• Mata Hari may be the most well-known undercover seductress, but her career as a spy technically lasted only one night.

• Oleg Kalugin, the youngest general in the history of the KGB and former head of worldwide foreign counterintelligence for the Russian Secret Service, lives in Washington and is a professor at Catholic University.

• When it comes to catching images and video of secret hotel-room trysts, the most photographed areas of a room are the bed and sitting room.

• During the Cold War, the KGB rigged hotel rooms in major cities all across the European continent. How did they ensure the officials they hoped to blackmail landed in the right suites? One word: upgrade.

• Grab a penny. Find the date on the front. If it’s from after 1999, look even closer at one of the zeros. Pretty tiny, right? With current technology, that’s how big the opening needs to be for a hidden camera to capture high-quality video.

• In most “honey traps,” the bed is almost never photographed directly. Instead, cameras are pointed at mirrors, and images are recorded as they’re bounced off the reflective surface. In some cases, spies go a bit nuts—videotaping a reflection of a reflection of a reflection.

• Check the molding on the walls and infrared ports on your hotel TV—these are the most likely areas for hidden cameras.

• If you’re a foreign diplomat bedding an attractive woman in Moscow, a few KGB operatives may or may not be in the other room creepily watching your every move.

• Sexpionage still works. In the last month, there have been two cases of successful entrapment.

• The KGB denies it had “sex schools” to train young seductresses in the art of lovemaking, but it sounds like a good idea to us.

• Undercover agents once tried to blackmail Indonesian president Achmed Sukarno with boudoir shots of him and several young Pan-Am flight attendants. His response? To ask for more copies so he could show his people how “virile” their leader was.

• The “Romeo” strategy shamelessly manipulates feminine trust, but it’s absolute genius. It works like this: A male spy befriends the wives and secretaries of government officials, builds intimate relationships, and eventually proposes marriage. Once betrothed, he confesses his status as a secret agent but pretends to be working for a friendly country. The reason for his admission? Headquarters is threatening to send him back home if he can’t furnish proof he’s making progress in his work. If his fiancée would just provide him with something, anything, that would appease his boss . . . .

• In the ’60s, swingers parties were happening in Washington. We know this because a Czech couple named Karl and Hana Koecher gained access to the CIA through wife swapping.

• There’s no proof that government secrets were compromised, but JFK bedded two supposed spies in his extramarital affairs: accused Nazi sympathizer Inga Arvad and alleged East German operative Ellen Romisch.

• Rene Gallimard, the French diplomat who had dalliances with a Chinese opera singer/undercover agent, carried on the affair for more than 20 years before he realized his perfect woman was actually a man. His cover? They slept together only in the dark.

• Sexpionage experts know way too many synonyms for sex acts, and fully grown Washingtonians will giggle like schoolgirls at every single one.

Bummed you couldn’t make it? The jury’s still out on when the next Sexpionage talk will take place, but the Spy Museum is hosting former Air Force interrogator Matthew Alexander in the “How to Break a Terrorist” lecture at 6:30 PM on August 10. Tickets are $12.50 per person. For the full scoop on after-hours at the museum, click here.

More>> Capital Comment Blog | News & Politics | Party Photos

Sarah is the Editor-in-Chief of Washingtonian Bride & Groom, and writes about weddings, fashion, and shopping. Her work has also appeared in Refinery29, Bethesda Magazine, and Washington City Paper, among others. She is a Georgetown University graduate, lives in Columbia Heights, and you can find her on Instagram at @washbridegroom and @sarahzlot.